JuiceVCR: “Events like TechPitch 4.5 [offer] you a range of intelligent perspectives”
JuiceVCR – an online music discovery platform focusing 100% on independent artists – came in second in the audience vote at Music TechPitch 4.5. Founder Jessica Straker has sought to create “an alternative promotion tool for DIY artists” that uses a combination of “human curation and algorithm rotation”. We sat down with her briefly to hear about the inspiration behind JuiceVCR, the experience of single-handedly bootstrapping a start-up, and her positive experience pitching and networking at Music TechPitch 4.5.
-Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today, Jessica. Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your professional story?
I worked in digital advertising as a community manager for a few years, creating social media for a diverse range of brands. But I have always had a love for music and storytelling.
-What inspired the idea for JuiceVCR?
I started working at a music/PR company and that was a real insight for me. It became apparent that the current system didn’t allow much access for unsigned artists (or those who wished to remain independent). I didn’t like what I saw and felt that with the building evolution of the industry in the digital age, artists such as these would begin to overpower and disrupt the current status quo – and I wanted to help them do that.
-JuiceVCR is very much your baby, and you have a lot of great content on it. Have have you managed to do it all on your own?
I run JuiceVCR remotely from wherever I am. The site has been live for almost two years now and is still in beta stage, as life gets in the way. I’ve been bootstrapping since the start, after being put off by start-up loan routes. There are around 20 volunteer contributors who upload to the rotation and two main team members that help out.
-What led you to apply for TechPitch 4.5? Have you done any pitching previously?
I had been encouraged to apply by my lawyer the previous year, but my confidence was lacking and I couldn’t arrange my thoughts well enough. Then I went to the pitch workshop, which was amazing, but I got choked up during my test pitch. I was too anxious.
-How did you feel your pitch went? Did it go as planned?
I didn’t have much time to create a customized three-minute pitch, as I found out that I’d made it through to the last eight start-ups whilst on holiday. I had two days to properly prepare so I kept it simple and timed myself until the delivery was concise and prompt. It went well, and the praise I received about the overall presentation was beyond my expectations.
-Was the experience of pitching to a panel and audience like at Music TechPitch 4.5 useful?
Very. It was good to get critical feedback from a panel and audience filled with professionals and peers. Events like this really help in offering you a range of intelligent perspectives all at once.
-Was the feedback constructive? Did you make any good connections?
The feedback was extremely constructive. The networking period afterwards was a great time to speak with people in more depth about their own projects and backgrounds – learning about where everyone else was coming from helped make the feedback more specific.
-What’s next for JuiceVCR?
I’ve been looking into management, and other ways to help promote DIY music.
-In your view, is London still a good place to be a start-up, despite Brexit?
In a lot of ways it is a great place to be as there’s lots of opportunity here, but I also think it’s important to look outside. I think it’s much harder to actually help better people’s lives here. If you have family heritage in another culture or country, it is essential to consider how your start up will impact them too.
To find out more about JuiceVCR, check out their website.